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13 Hiking Trails Near Calgary

13 Hiking Trails Near Calgary


We have compiled a short-list of 13 fun hikes to try near Calgary, AB.  We tried to stay within a three hour drive of Calgary; and while this is not an extensive list of hikes available to you, it does highlight a few sensational hiking trails to try in Banff National park, Jasper National Park and the Ya Ha Tina area.

This list should help you get the most out of your Free park pass in celebration of Canada’s 150th Anniversary.

Free admission 2017

Parks Canada is offering free admission to ALL Parks Canada locations.  They would like to invite all Canadians and visitors from around the world to help celebrate the beauty and splendor of Canada.

View of Moraine lake from the rock pile

13 Great Hiking Trails Near Calgary, AB

Keep in mind that these are in no particular order:

 1) Lake Louise Tea Houses- Banff National Park:

Viewing Goggles at Lake Louise

Experience the beauty of the Canadian Rockies and visit the oldest tea house in Canada. Most visitors to Lake Louise have likely heard rumors about these historic tea houses.  Built in the 1900’s as a refuge for tired hikers, these charming and rustic tea houses are still in operation today.  They are only open during the summer months (June-October) and serve tea, coffee and home-made snacks to hungry hikers. (cash only)

  • Lake Agnes Tea House : is a 3.6 Km moderate hike (one way) that starts in front of the Fairmont Chateau Hotel.  The trail switch backs past breathtaking alpine lakes with an elevation gain of 1312 Feet.  Lake Agnes Tea House is the oldest tea house in Canada. Getting here:
  • Plain of Six Glaciers Tea House : is a 5.5 Km moderate hike (one way) that starts in front of the Fairmont Chateau Hotel.  From the far end of the lake the trail meanders past breathtaking waterfalls, spellbinding glaciers and towering rock cliffs dotted with rock-climbers. This trail has an elevation gain of 1263 Feet.
  • Tea House Challenge Hike: For keen mountaineers looking for a bit of a challenge,  try the “Tea House Challenge.”  The goal is to reach both Tea Houses in one day.  This 14.6 Km round trip loop offers you the chance to explore the landscape around Lake Louise.

2) Black Rock Mountain Lookout- Ghost River Valley

Blackrock lookout

Discover the challenges and lifestyle of being a forest ranger in the 1930’s. Taking in the spectacular views of the Ghost River valley and Alberta’s iconic Devil’s Head Mountain, on this 10 Km moderate hike. From the trail head at the base of the mountain you will hike to a historical fire lookout, built by the Alberta Forest Service in 1929. This rugged building has stood against the ravages of time for 88 year. Considered one of the most exposed building still standing in Canada.

3) Crescent Falls – David Thompson Hwy

Crescent Falls with a model wearing a hudson bay blanket

These falls are located a few kilometers up river of the confluence of Big Horn River and the North Saskatchewan River. Take an easy stroll to a viewing platform or choose a short 3.6 Km hike to the base of this impressive two-tiered falls.  Climbing down into the canyon  you achieve a stunning new perspective as the river rushes by, in its thunderous decent over the falls.  Well worth the effort!

4) Johnston Canyon- Banff National Park

Johnston Canyon Lower Falls

This beautiful canyon is a must see while visiting the park. It is an easy 1.1 Km (one way) hike to the lower falls or continue an additional 2.5 Km (one way) to the upper falls, with a modest elevation gain of 688 feet. This is an extremely popular hike, quite easy for most fitness levels. We suggest doing this hike in the early morning or late afternoon in order to avoid the large crowds of tourists from Banff.

5)  Sentinel Pass- Banff National Park

This is an excellent hike beginning at Moraine Lake and ending at the start of the Mt. Temple scramble.  The trail is laced with the panoramic views of the Ten Peaks looming in the background, teal green glacier fed lakes and a valley full of larch trees.  This is a 12 Km round trip, with an elevation gain of 2400 feet.  We suggest doing this hike in Autumn, when the Larch trees begin to change color.

6) Buller Pass Trail- Kananaskis Country

This is an enjoyable 14.6 Km hike (round trip) with endless views of extraordinary mountain peaks, unexpected waterfalls and tumbling scree fields alive with Pika’s and Marmots.  History note: this trail was originally created for backpackers looking to do some overnight camping at Ribbon Lake

7)  Elbow Lake & Rae Glacier- Kananaskis Country

Rae Glacier

The path to Elbow Lake is a steep 1.5 km hike (one way), very popular with Horseback riders, anglers, and other outdoor enthusiasts.  Stop here to enjoy the stunning emerald green waters of Elbow Lake or proceed another 2.5 Km (one way) up the pass to Rae Glacier.   Reasons to go? Rae Glacier has been steadily receding over the past few years.  At one time the Glacier filled the whole cirque, but not anymore.  We are so fortunate to live in a place full of magnificent mountain views and slowly shrinking glaciers.  I think we should make time to go see them.

8)  Rockbound Lake- Banff National Park

Is a steady climb through a fragrant mixed forest.  The trail takes you behind the distinctive rock face of Castle Mountain that is visible from Hwy # 1 (Trans Canada Hwy).  This is a moderate 8 km hike (one way) from the trailhead with an elevation gain of 2490 Feet. The trail climbs along rock bluffs and emerges in a glacial cirque filled by the beautiful Rockbound Lake.

9)  Maligne Canyon- Jasper National Park

This is a kid friendly, 4.5 Km round trip hike with a minor 330 foot elevation gain.  Considered one of the deepest river canyons in the Canadian Rockies, Maligne Canyon is an interesting look back through time.  This hike has many unique characteristic ; including six foot bridges, plunging canyon walls measuring up to 160 feet deep, fossils and bubbling springs emerging through limestone boulders.

10)  Hidden Falls- Ya Ha Tinda

Ya Ha Tinda- Hidden Falls

This fantastic hike involves a river crossing of the beautiful Red Deer River and its floodplain. (usually thigh deep, but at times it can be chest deep depending on the time of year you go.)  This is a very popular trail with horseback riders as the horse gets wet not you.  After picking a path across the river from the Big Horn Falls Campsite it is an easy 11 Km out & back walk. The trail up to the falls is a well-defined horse trail. To view these stunning falls and stand at their base, descend the 300 feet into the canyon bottom. Even from the top of the Gorge you cannot see the fall. (thus the name hidden)

11)  Eagle Lake & James Falls – Ya Ha Tinda

Eagle Lake Hike-Eagle Lake at sunset

The trail to Eagle Lake is an easy kid friendly hike of 5.5 Km round trip.  If you intend to continue out to see James Falls it is roughly another 2 Km past the end of Eagle Lake.  Keep your eyes open for Big Horn sheep in the area, as they can often be seen sunning themselves on the rugged hillside here.

12)  Big Horn Falls – Ya Ha Tinda

Bighorn Falls hike- Ya Ha Tinda- beautiful falls

This is a classic example of two paths diverged in the woods.  You can either follow the river the short 1 Km (one way) meander up the base of the falls; or you can climb the hill and walk along grassy meadow overlooking this magnificent river gorge.  If you have driven this far out, we suggest doing both paths, both views are spectacular!

13)  Yamnuska – Banff National Park

Yamnuska Chains with 150 foot drop

Get your Scramble on!  This is an exhilarating 10 KM loop hike, with a scree surf to the finish.  It does demand some sure footedness and caution when it comes to the “Yamnuska Chains” area.  But for the most part, this hike is a great moderate to intermediate trail for enthusiasts that want to try something a little more challenging.  Regular visitors to the mountain say it is an incredible first-time scramble, for those looking to take their hiking up a notch.



So there you have it, a short list of hikes you and your family can try this year while out celebrating all the wonder and beauty Canada has to offer.

And remember, wherever you live … I am sure there is a fantastic hike to try within a short distance of you.  You just have to get out there and find it.  Happy celebrating.

We hope to see you out on the trails!


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View of Moraine lakes deep blue colour from the rock pile

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